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Pathogenic disruption of DISC1-serine racemase binding elicits schizophrenia-like behavior via D-serine depletion.


Perturbation of Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) and D-serine/NMDA receptor hypofunction have both been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. In the present study, we demonstrate that these two pathways intersect with behavioral consequences. DISC1 binds to and stabilizes serine racemase (SR), the enzyme that generates D-serine, an endogenous co-agonist of the NMDA receptor. Mutant DISC1 fails to bind to SR, facilitating ubiquitination and degradation of SR and a decrease in D-serine production. To elucidate DISC1-SR interactions in vivo, we generated a mouse model of selective and inducible expression of mutant DISC1 in astrocytes, the main source of D-serine in the brain. Expression of mutant DISC1 downregulates endogenous DISC1 and decreases protein but not mRNA levels of SR, resulting in diminished production of D-serine. In contrast, mutant DISC1 does not alter levels of ALDH1L1, connexins, GLT-1 or binding partners of DISC1 and SR, LIS1 or PICK1. Adult male and female mice with lifelong expression of mutant DISC1 exhibit behavioral abnormalities consistent with hypofunction of NMDA neurotransmission. Specifically, mutant mice display greater responses to an NMDA antagonist, MK-801, in open field and pre-pulse inhibition of the acoustic startle tests and are significantly more sensitive to the ameliorative effects of D-serine. These findings support a model wherein mutant DISC1 leads to SR degradation via dominant negative effects, resulting in D-serine deficiency that diminishes NMDA neurotransmission thus linking DISC1 and NMDA pathophysiological mechanisms in mental illness.

Pubmed ID: 22801410


  • Ma TM
  • Abazyan S
  • Abazyan B
  • Nomura J
  • Yang C
  • Seshadri S
  • Sawa A
  • Snyder SH
  • Pletnikov MV


Molecular psychiatry

Publication Data

May 23, 2013

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: MH083728
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: MH084020
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: MH18501
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: P20 MH084018
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: P50 MH094268
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: P50 MH094268
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH018501
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH069853
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH083728
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH092443
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH092443
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R21 MH085226
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: RC1 MH088753

Mesh Terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Amphetamine
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes
  • Brain
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cycloheximide
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dizocilpine Maleate
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Humans
  • Inhibition (Psychology)
  • Leupeptins
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Protein Binding
  • Racemases and Epimerases
  • Reflex, Startle
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serine
  • Transfection